1. Annoyingly vague menu descriptions.
That "pork" could be anything from chops to a chicharrones, and what if I order monkfish expecting a pan roasted filet but instead end up with ceviche? While diners should certainly try their best to trust the chef, it's irritating when a menu gives absolutely nothing away.
2. Restaurants doing stupid things on social media.
Chipotle pretended they didn't know how to use Twitter, which was weird.
The owners of Amy's Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro had an epic melt down on Facebook. It was rude, but mostly just hilarious.
And Taco Bell continues to retweet or respond to anyone who mentions them. Which is weird and super annoying and needs to end.
3. Restaurant employees doing equally stupid and absolutely disgusting things on social media.
A subway employee (@weedpriest) Instagrammed some really disgusting things, including his own penis on a loaf of unbaked Subway bread.
And someone posted a picture of a Taco bell employee licking a stack of taco shells to the company's Facebook page.
4. Customers refusing to tip for "moral," often bigoted reasons.
In January, an Applebee's server got stiffed by a customer who claimed, "I give GOD 10%, why do you get 18%?" Again in October, a waiter in Kansas was denied a tip by customers who cited his "homosexual lifestyle" as the reason. Personal beliefs aside, tipping is not optional.
5. "Single-concept" restaurants with too many options.
Single-concept restaurants have taken off, obviously. The idea is great: Take a popular food, perfect that food, then devote an entire restaurant to the mass production of that food. Nothing but nuggets? Sure. A metropolitan shrine to potatoes? Yes. A rice krispie boutique? Fine.
The problem is when single-concept spots offer infinite preparations, sauces, flavors, and toppings for their namesake items. Then the whole idea of simplicity and singular focus gets lost, and what could be a spectacular biscuit shop overextends itself with homemade compound butters, jams, even charcuterie. Here's hoping that in 2014, single-concept restaurants have the sense to simplify.
6. Fast food chains losing their sense of self.
This year, fast food chains made big efforts to get healthy, usually resulting in weird/gross/pointless new menu items and inevitably laughable marketing campaigns. Burger King's Satisfries are not good. KFC's Kentucky Grilled Chicken has no place in a fried chicken joint. McDonald's Egg White Delight McMuffin has 250 calories, and almost that many ingredients. Enough is enough; long live burgers and fries.
7. Very expensive, "haute" chicken dishes that discriminate against single people.
Pictured above is the Whole Roasted Chicken For Two ($79) from The Nomad in NYC, which comes stuffed with foie gras, black truffle, and brioche. Boston's Craigie on Main serves a Whole Roasted Misty Knoll Chicken For Two ($76), with a seasonally changing garnish (currently cabbage, barley risotto, and pickled pine nuts). Rotisserie Georgette in NYC recently debuted a wild mushroom-stuffed Whole Roasted Label Rouge Chicken For Two, served with foie gras ($72). All sound delicious, but what's wrong with simple, affordable roast chicken dishes that don't require a partner?
8. Restaurants inside retail stores.
Department stores like Bloomingdales and Barneys have long had in-store restaurants (Forty Carrots and Fred's, respectively). But this year, Tommy Bahama opened a full service restaurant (pictured above) inside it's Manhattan flagship, Urban Outfitters debuted a coffee bar inside one of its Manhattan locations, with plans for a bar/restaurant in a forthcoming Brooklyn outlet, and Brooks Brothers announced plans to open a steakhouse around the corner from its flagship. I'm all for multitasking, but no one needs to be browsing for cufflinks and kaftans while waiting for their steak to arrive.
9. Really creepy themed restaurants.
There's a hospital-themed restaurant in Latvia where the waitresses dress like nurses and feed diners as if they were ailing patients. And, a Barbie-themed restaurant opened in Taiwain, which at first doesn't seem that creepy but on closer inspection is kind of like an American Girl Cafe/Hooters hybrid.
And, ICYMI, there is now a bathroom themed restaurant in Los Angeles. Magic Restroom Cafe, diners sit on toilet-shaped stools and a "Bloody Number Two" sundae is served in a toilet shaped bowl. Themes can be fun (well, sort of), but these new restaurants are taking things to seriously unappetizing extremes.